Higher education in America today is a world of illusions. Sometimes they are comforting illusions, as in the pleasant thought that everybody can profit intellectually from college. Sometimes they are self-serving illusions, as when colleges and universities justify their soaring tuitions as a good investment on the part of students. Sometimes they are scary illusions, as when students are taught that Mother Earth lies crushed beneath their carbon footprints.
Hollywood specializes in illusions too, but movies of course declare their illusoriness. One of the pleasures they offer is seeing the impossible made to look almost real. Legendary special effects master Ray Harryhausen gave us a Gulliver who seemed perfectly scaled to the Lilliputians and a giant octopus that devoured part of San Francisco. American higher education, by contrast, steadfastly maintains its Lilliputian version of scholarship is the real thing, and that its monstrous depictions of America are plain truth.
The National Association of Scholars works hard to dispel these illusions. We spot the new illusions in the making—such as indoctrination programs in the dorms packaged as “educating the whole person;” and volunteering for political campaign as a college-credit-worthy substitute for actual courses—and call them out. We spot the mischief that particular colleges conjure to hide their more dubious actions. We offer de-mystifications of higher ed’s icons, such as Toni Morrison. We provide in-depth analyses of higher ed’s place in American life and synoptic overviews. And we do it all in good cheer.
Want more? Of course you do! But to keep the NAS website in top form as the puller-back-of-wizardly-curtains and the puncturer -of-pretentious-balloons, you should do your part. Every day we send reality checks to higher education. Now we ask you send a year-end reality check to us. Or credit-card donation if you prefer.
Small is beautiful; large is pulchritudinous.
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